In Maryland, a Baltimore County jury has awarded the victims of a 2006 Exxon gas spill over $150 million. Some 90 Jacksonville residents experienced personal injury, property damage, and emotional trauma after a leaking pipe at a neighborhood gas station caused 26,000 gallons of gasoline to enter the groundwater.
As part of its compensatory damages, Exxon Mobile Corp is paying the plaintiffs for the full appraised value of their properties, as well as for emotional trauma and the annual testing for four kinds of cancer for the rest of the victims’ lives. However, the jury members, who found that Exxon was not guilty of fraud, did not rule in favor of awarding the punitive damages to the plaintiffs, who had sought billions of dollars in recovery.
Their personal injury team had argued that Exxon was aware it was using inadequate leak detection tools yet ignored that this could result in personal injuries. Meantime, while Exxon has accepted responsibility for the spill and apologized to the victim, the company maintains that it never acted with intentional malice or negligence.
Some four tanker loads of gas spread through the area until the leak was discovered over five weeks later. The Jacksonville, Maryland service station is now closed. However, some 87 wells continue drilling in an attempt to pump water from the ground and take out any remaining contaminants. Since the gas leak, about 45 million gallons of groundwater has been treated.
Gas leaks may cause damage to surrounding areas and pollute the water. These leaks can occur when a gas pipe at a station breaks. Failure to detect and repair the leak in a timely manner can prove a health hazard to those affected and may result in major property damage to commercial and residential properties.
Exxon found liable in Jacksonville gas leak, BaltimoreSun.com, March 12, 2009
Exxon To Pay 150 Million After Gas Leak, ABC2News.com, March 12, 2009
Exxon gas-leak case goes to jury after 19-week trial, BaltimoreSun.com, February 28, 2009
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